“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination” – Christina Scalise
As we’ve had people stop by to see our new babe, I’ve had a lot of people comment on how tidy my home is for having a newborn around. What they don’t know is that there are dust bunnies under the sofa and some kind of strange goop on my refrigerator door that I haven’t had the chance to scrub down, but from first glance, our home is consistently tidy. I’m the first to admit, this isn’t a natural state for me. Though it pains me to say it, I’m not naturally tidy. I’m just not. It’s something I’ve always struggled with and I blame it on my creative mind. It’s scattered and disorganized which leads to similar habits. Ask David- he’ll give you full disclosure on my battle with tidiness.
Anyways, since it doesn’t come naturally, I’ve had to develop some tactics that encourage me to stay tidy on a regular basis. A huge part of the success with this came when we moved a couple of years ago. I made a MAJOR purge and was really, really strict with what I let myself pack in the moving truck. I truly didn’t bring anything into our home that we didn’t use on a regular basis, have plans to use in the new space or that we truly loved and enjoyed. So to start- we began life in our new home with exactly what we needed with very little excess. It’s a basic principle- less stuff = a tidier home. That may sound quippy and stolen from a book, but it’s the truth.
The second part of this is key. Everything I bring into my home has to have a place. If I have something that doesn’t have a proper place, I either have to create space for it or it doesn’t belong in my home. Sometimes making space requires getting rid of something else, sometimes it means rearranging a closet. Either way, space has to be made and once the item is there, respected. This is a huge piece that helped me stay organized. Once an item comes into the house, it’s assigned a place and put away right away. The system is repeated for the rest of the object’s life. If it’s been used, it goes back to it’s place when I’m done using it. Even if I’m mid-project, everything has to be put away. It will be easy enough to gather things again once I’m ready to start up again.
This applies to every object that comes into our home. From new shoes to bananas to office supplies. Once it comes out of the bag, the packaging and tags are disposed of and the item finds its new home where it will be when I’m ready to use it. It goes beyond making sure you have a place for your shoes in your closet and coats in the entryway. It means you find a place in your pantry for those bananas rather than leaving them on the counter. You have to take those paper clips out of their packaging and put them in a safe place rather than toss them on your desk and hope for the best.
If I know thing about “stuff” it’s this: clutter attracts clutter. So if you’re tossing your mail on the counter when you walk in the door, it’s going to attract loose change, sunglasses and receipts. If you leave that new shirt on your dresser, it’s going to make new friends with your jeans, baseball hat and sweaters. That’s where the mess starts. When objects don’t have specific homes out of eyesight, they draw other objects to themselves and before you know it, you have small mess piles that need to be tidied. It’s so much easier to take five minutes to put everything away once you enter the house again rather than let the piles develop.
I’ll be the first to admit that our home isn’t always tidy. There are days that I’m in a rush and drop things at the door on my way to the next event or come home exhausted from toting my little human around town and have to get him to bed before anything else happens. Life happens and your stuff should never get in the way of it. But keeping consistent resting places for your stuff means that when you come back to that pile by the door, it will only take you a few minutes to get everything sorted and settled. Whether that’s the same night or the next morning, the process won’t be daunting.
Something that I do every morning and evening is a five minute sweep through the house. I’ll fluff pillows and fold blankets, put dishes in the dishwasher, wipe down the counter, pop a load of laundry in the dryer, sort our mail, and put away anything that might be free from its little home. It sounds like a lot but once you have the system down, it truly takes minutes. That way I can start and finish my day knowing that things are in place and don’t have to worry about turning the corner and seeing a mess during long day with a fussy baby.
Like I said, I’m no expert and we still have days when our house looks like a tornado ran through it, but the cleanup process requires a lot less effort when I can toss all the out of place objects in a laundry basket and drop them off in their homes as I go through room by room. As with any part of a minimalist lifestyle, it takes time to adapt a new system so give yourself time, but if you struggle to keep a tidy home, I would definitely encourage you to step back and take a look at how you’re storing your stuff. Is it practical? Do you know where everything belongs? If you have things that don’t have their own space, is this because they just need to leave? Give these questions some thought and use those answers to develop your own system of having a place for everything and everything in its place.
Until next time!